Evansville’s Signature School may have experienced a difficult beginning (see below), but its achievement has been longstanding. And now it is No. 1 in the rankings of respected Washington Post columnist Jay Mathews.

Photo courtesy Signature School

When the Signature School of Evansville, Ind., became a public charter campus, the district it had been part of dispatched technicians to cut phone and Internet lines and remove computers and a copy machine.

When that didn’t stop the breakaway effort, the superintendent told Signature teachers they had to return to their former schools. “Everyone was quiet because we were in tears,” said math teacher Shannon Hughes. “We felt we were going to lose our jobs. Our health insurance was in doubt. What would happen to us?”

American charter schools often have rough beginnings. School districts usually resist what they see as damaging competition for students and resources. But Signature’s recovery from troublesome days in 2002 and 2003 has been exceptional. It has become one of the nation’s most successful high schools, despite being far from the big metropolitan areas that produce the most celebrated campuses.

Read the full column.

Tom Schuman is the senior vice president of communications & operations for the Indiana Chamber. He is also the editor of the Chamber’s award-winning BizVoice magazine and has been with the organization for 21 years.